Steelworkers are worried that the big tariffs that President Donald Trump is imposing on imported steel and aluminum will cost them their livelihoods.
In western Pennsylvania’s Mercy County voters were heavily in favor of Trump during the presidential election of 2016.
Some strategists for the Republicans believe that the tariffs imposed by Trump could be timed in part to sway voters in this steel country of Pennsylvania where there will be a special election next Tuesday for a seat in the House of Representatives.
On Saturday, Trump is going to make a visit to the area in support of the GOP candidate and most expect a warm welcome for the president.
U.S. Steel lauded Trump’s tariffs and said it would be restarting one of its two idled blast furnaces at a steel plant in Illinois that will create 500 new jobs.
America is the largest importer of steel in the world, buying 35 million tons during 2017, but steel workers at plants that import steel slabs from countries such as Russia to roll the slab into sheets for clients, like Caterpillar, Harley Davidson, Home Depot and Deere, are close to impossible to buy from steel producers in the U.S.
The CEO of one company said that if his customers refused to accept a price hike of 25% because of the tariffs, close to 1,200 workers could eventually be out of work.
The steel industry in the U.S. employed approximately 147,000 people during 2015. Manufacturers needing steel employ approximately 6.5 million people annually and 6.3 million are employed by the construction industry that needs steel.
The tariffs are shelving plans by some companies to make investments in their plants in Indiana and Pennsylvania of a total of more than $1 billion that was earmarked for changing out antiquated equipment for new up to date equipment.
Trump has kept his tariffs despite big resistance from other Republicans and many countries that have promised to retaliate with tariffs of their own. Trump on Thursday move forward with the tariffs of 25% for steel and 10% for aluminum.
Many are calling this the ultimate irony as Trump acts to protect steel jobs in the U.S. with his sweeping tariffs he is killing off steel jobs at the same time, making some big winners and other big losers.
One analyst said that a substantial number of workers in the steel industry could lose their jobs due to the tariffs.